DeWitt Brinson: Describe yourself alone in a room.

Jai Arun Ravine: Eating an apple bought at a Publix in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 14, 2013 just before the store closed. Surrounded by orange walls. Completely at ease and/or peace, if that word could be used without irony. 

DB: You wake up. The sun is barely in the sky. Along your bedroom walls, someone has drawn a crude depiction of the last time you lied to someone. How do you feel?

JR: Pissed. How did this asshole get in my room and past the deadbolt? I fucking hate my space being violated / entrances against my will and/or knowledge and/or consent. I don't even care about the depiction of the event of my lie, I care about the border, the line, crossed and ripped asunder. 

DB: Describe yourself alone in a room.

JR: Watching Buffy on Netflix. Eating potato chips. Hermitting and burrowing into my bed and blankets, digging a nest which I like to believe is about comfort and nurturing and rest. Sometimes it feels like my body continues to ache and will never find the position of least pain. 

DB: What is your life?

JR: 30 years. Sometimes I laughed. Sometimes I hated myself. Sometimes I was numb. A lot of times, the numbness. A lot of times, many times, most times, I was never really actually there in the life. I was outside it. Or underneath it. Or not of it. And I cried and didn't understand my body. That was many years. And much darkness. Ink on napkins. Being choked, or alternatively, a weight at the base of my throat that held back my voice. But now it is different. I bike in the sun. I go to dance class. I am dancing. And then I am writing. And then I am laughing. And then I am eating food. And then I am with friends. And then I am grateful. 

DB: Describe yourself alone.

JR: Having a distinct contour. Being solid, of substance. Being of the world. Being my own being. Not speaking. Breathing. And thinking. Biting into an apple. Chewing. My wireless internet connection. Queer porn. Touch. How and when pleasure arises in the body alone. And if there is a mirror, a reflection in the television that is off. And if there are thoughts of another, or of a previous encounter, that saturates the aloneness, and arises in the body, from the skin peeling away. 

DB: A small child is sitting on the sidewalk crying surrounded by bees. You think you hear someone playing the piano. The day is so hot. Why are you wearing a coat?

JR: Because I hate crying children, I wear the coat to protect myself from the child and the sounds of the child and the tears of the child and the child's need for someone to know what it needs without being asked. Because the child does not ask for what it needs, because the child needs someone to know/assume what it needs, I wear the coat. I walk away from the child, far away, putting as much distance between the grating sound and its need, and take off the coat in a kind of silence that is the sound of air and the sound of sun and the sound of small insects walking across the leaves of a tree. While I don't mind the piano, I don't love it either. I don't love hearing something that comes from a stranger I can't see. 

DB: Describe a room.

JR: There is a wooden table. Sturdy of give and size. My pelvis sits atop it. The bone of it. Inside the bone is a heart, pulsing. The room is maybe dark but at one certain side of the room it opens into brightness, lush greenery, a garden, but more like the land before it was ever defined, before it was ever a place connected to a door. I wonder if this space is also a room, what exists outside here. If a room is a room because of enclosures. 

DB: Have you ever had sex with someone while singing? Talk a little about that.

JR: No but I have laughed, which throws people off sometimes. They say, "That threw me off." I want to have sex with someone while laughing, laughing all the way through, because why be serious or try to look cool or try to be really smooth or try to know what will come next or what you will feel. I'd like to just come and continue laughing, and for the other person to laugh also, as the breath released from the mouth creates space in other parts of the body, allows us to move. 

DB: Describe yourself.

JR: I hesitate a bit here because I hate writing profiles or telling people (strangers) about myself or trying to market or sell myself to something. So I will go ahead and answer this in another way. I am some kind of feral, some kind of vibration within constraints of identity politics and/or gender and/or race, some kind of interstice not comfortable anywhere, really, other than when I'm alone in my own hovel. Although sometimes, more times than not I say "fuck it" and brave the world, some days the constraints are less visible or less tenuous or less of a problem. I'm not sure that's how I wanted to answer the question. The writing of myself requires more writing. I'm made up of recycled paper and pencils saved from high school and cheap pens from the dollar store. I'm made up of Thai pop music and white desire. I'm a bit colonized. I wash myself with soap. I like leaving the windows open. I love eating and people who love to eat and people who can really cook. I have lime green duck tape. Perhaps this is closer.

DB: What is your life?

JR: I'm going to quote Bhanu Kapil because I saw her just the other day and dragged her across the floor in a red meat sack. And because I have been engaging again with her work and her "Humanimal." Her question is, "How do we write ourselves out of one life and into another?" and I have been thinking about that. As a question. And as a practice. The last section of her "Incubation: A Space for Monsters" includes this moment: "She finds each forest in turn and enters it as a test of desire. It is radical desire but, unable to stop feeling what she came there to feel, she can't stop and now she is in the thick part of the country stumbling over the roots." My life is a test of desire, I want to keep feeling what I am here to feel, I want it to take me somewhere, to animate me, to make me dance. 

jai arun     


interviewed by the tender, young, virile writer

DeWitt Brinson

Jai Arun Ravine is an interstitial writer, dancer, performer and filmmaker. They are the author of แล้ว AND THEN ENTWINE: LESSON PLANS, POEMS, KNOTS, THE SPIDERBOI FILES and the creator of TOM/TRANS/THAI, a short film on Thai and Thai American trans-masculinities, which has screened at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (Thailand), Sabina Lee Gallery (Los Angeles), CAAMFest 2013 (San Francisco) and My People Film Series (Pittsburgh). All three works are being taught in college courses across the US. A recipient of fellowships from ComPeung, Djerassi and Kundiman, they are also a staff writer for Lantern Review. Jai is currently working on a subverted travel guide that interrogates the desire white people have to lose and reinvent themselves in Thailand, and tracks the ways this desire manifests in the tourism industry, popular western media and the western imagination. For images, links to short films, information on upcoming events and Jai's critical framework, visit